Saturday, April 07, 2007

Family Circle Cup qualifying begins, disappointment continues

The withdrawal of Martina Hingis more or less spoiled an otherwise good day of tennis as qualifying weekend began here in Charleston. With Amelie Mauresmo, Justine Henin and Maria Sharapova out because of illness and injury, fans were already very disappointed. Then yesterday, Svetlana Kuznetsova, who had moved into the first seed position, withdrew because of injury. Today's withdrawal by Hingis was the last straw. It probably doesn't matter to a lot of people, but I am also very disappointed that Alona Bondarenko withdrew. The good news is that her countrywoman, Julia Vakulenko, was given a wild card into the main draw--I am a fan of both Bondarenko and Vakulenko. Vakulenko has a tough first round, too--against Katerina Srebotnik.

It was sunny and windy on the courts today, and the wind often affected play. The action began with an upset: First qualifying seed Yaroslava Shvedova was significantly outplayed and upset by Dominika Cibulkova. Yuliana Fedak and Raluca Olaru played an entertaining three-set match, with Fedak repeatedly making errors off of Olaru's slice. Olaru served for the match at 3-5, and Fedak saved two match points to break her. The match went to a tiebreak, with Fedak moving ahead easily, then getting some competition from Olaru. In the end, though, experience prevailed, and Fedak moved on to the next round. I showed her a really nice photo I took of her last year, which she showed to her coach.

Melina Czink had a fairly easy time defeating Anna Tatishvili, and Bethanie Mattek and Karolina Sprem gave us another entertaining match, with many breaks of serve. Mattek's first serve was very impressive; unfortunately, she didn't always hold it, and her second serve was weak. Sprem prevailed, 7-6, 6-2.

I saw Patty Schnyder practice for a few moments, but when I returned with my camera, she was gone. We also watched practices by Li Na and Sam Stosur, and Stosur signed a photo for me. Schnyder was interviewed on television today. She is, of course, immensely popular in Charleston.

Perhaps to make us all feel a bit better after losing five of the tournament's stars, we were each given a really nice Family Circle Cup Hawaiian shirt. We are keeping our fingers crossed that no one else gets injured. Serena Williams is still in the draw, and in Charleston, Schnyder is perhaps a bigger star than anyone, and she is ready to play.

Tennis outfit of the day: Yuliana Fedak, looking great in a soft orange, 3/4-sleeve fitted top and matching pleated skirt.

We were not able to reserve a room in the wonderful, European-style hotel we stayed in last year, but we are staying in Mt. Pleasant again, in a very nice bed and breakfast, where four ostriches live in the back yard. Our room is wonderful--very spacious, with a large collection of books, a fireplace and several candles.